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830

Geekenders’ Nintendance at the Odyssey

Burlesque, Culture, Events

April 18, 2017

It’s a warm Vancouver night, clear and expectant, and I’m walking towards one of the most storied venues in the city. The Odyssey was opened in 1987 and continues to operate as one of the city’s most prominent gay bars and that makes it the perfect spot for Geekenders to expand into.

A line had already begun to form at seven o’clock, the curious and familiar of both venue and troupe coming to see what the official mingling of both would result in. The answer was a smashing success, with a good crowd that was hot and ready for everything the Geekenders had to offer and a Geekenders crew fully prepared to take advantage of everything that their hosts had on hand.

People got settled, got drinks, got comfortable, greeted old friends and made new ones before the show began. The Odyssey provided a host of Nintendo-themed drinks and entertainment, including several iterations of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., letting the bar fill with classic remix video game tracks that set the stage for what was to come.

And what came? Veronica Vamp and the incomparable Stephen Blakley took the stage as Jesse and James of Team Rocket fame, accompanied by stage kitty Chantini. The two set an immediate rapport, riffing off the game and the cartoon and one another as they set the tone for the acts to follow with typical Geekenders flair.

Dee Luscious set things off as Bowser, King of the Koopas, prancing out to Amy Kurcharik and Friends’ Like a Boss and showing everyone that she had come up with an ironclad plan to finally conquer the Mushroom Kingdom: kidnap Princess Peach and put her in a castle. Dee made the stage her castle and every last audience member was captivated by her performance. It was a strong showing, equal parts funny and sensual, and it set things at ease and relaxed the crowd for whatever was to come.

With Princess Peach out of the picture, Jayne Fondue stepped up as Princess Daisy and let us know why she should be the new ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and not just Luigi’s heart. Rocking out to How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds, her facial expressions let everyone know that they were watching royalty – and when she came into the audience to thrum along with her loyal subjects, we were surprised to find her take someone on stage with her. This lucky player two was fed the freshest sort of block-fare, turned from another face in the crowd into the most famous plumber this side of Mario. The two of them stepped off, triumphant, and everyone’s heart went with them.

Artemis Lark had a difficult act to follow, but she managed. Coming out as the Kaepora Gaebora- the Great Owl from the Legend of Zelda games – she took a wild breath and claimed the space around the stage, flapping her wings and moving her head like an owl to Who Are You? by the Who, an inspired choice that Artemis turned into the ultimate audio/visual pun. Her facial expressions were, once again, perfect, and she became the show’s twilight princess as attention focused from performer to crowd.

The fine folks behind the upcoming Robin Hood: Prince of Tease were given a chance to strut their stuff while hosting the Geekenders costume contest. They’re performing an entirely gender-bent take on the classic fable and will be at the Performance Works on Granville Island from April 28th to May 13th. You can find out more by clicking here.

We were treated to two separate contests, a Nintendo-themed and a non-Nintendo themed follow up. A man wearing a full on Pikachu costume claimed the former, while the birthday-celebrating Draco Muffboi and companion Ginger Femmecat shared victory Hogwarts-bound Sailors Uranus and Pluto. Their victory was greeted with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sung at Draco, and a Happiest Birthday to you.

With that island of calm behind us, we returned to the world of burlesque with Kitty Glitter proving that everyone loves a dinosaur. Appearing as Yoshi, she gobbled down every last morsel of attention with a fun and energetic showing that had the Odyssey in good spirits and ready for more.

The crowd was rocking and rollicking and feeling the passion of that performance, and so we were treated to an intense tournament of that most skill based of challenges: rock paper scissors. Contestants were culled from the crowd, their glory to be claimed or lost on stage for all the Odyssey to see. The battle was fierce and the prizes for victory mighty, with the final winner taking home the Master Sword.

You could take that prize home, maybe. You should come to one of these shows.

Donna Jazz flounced on stage to bring us back to the show as Kirby. She started things innocent, with some light instrumental that led to a nice rendition of Don’t Put in Your Mouth, the songs following the action as Kirby, of course, ate something… and we all know that Kirby takes on the power of those that are eaten. The music was swallowed and so was Donna, allowing her to transform into a very different kind of dreamland resident, Beyoncé’s Partition marking this as the perfect song to sum up the stunning performance as a whole.

As Kirby ended, the King returned: one can’t keep a bad Koopa down, and one does not turn away from a second showing from their King. The debuting Johnny Wildcard eschewed the stage entirely, showing as incredible athleticism as he swung along and pole-danced to Ain’t no rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant. Johnny hit every beat perfectly, ruling the land and the world and making the Odyssey his kingdom, and by the time his performance ended and we had managed to pick our jaws up off the floor we were certain we had seen the show-stopping number.

We were wrong.

Saffron St. James flew out from Ottawa to take part in this show, donning the yellow cap and crooked mustache of Wario. She stepped on stage and, like Wario, was greedy for our attention – but unlike Wario, she knew how to hold it once she had it. Setting herself to Crown by Angel Haze, she brought the house down, a perfect presence that proved that majesty comes from so much more than a crown.

Jesse and James saw us off and kicked off a massive dance party mingled with video games and good times, as the crowd that was there stayed and new faces showed up. A good time was had by all, and Stephen Blakley gave us some magic as he took the stage to reprise the Han Solo routine from the Star Wars burlesque. What else was he going to do? Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger was playing. The Geekenders crowd knew what was up, and the new faces from the Odyssey clued in quickly.

Geekenders continues to break new ground and expand their venues and fanbase. This was an awesome show with a great turnout for a Sunday night, and there’s sure to be more to follow both at the Odyssey and elsewhere. We know for certain that the Geekenders are returning to the Rio this May the Fourth (and the Fifth~!) with Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back. For our new friends that saw tonight and want more, click here and grab some tickets.

You won’t be disappointed.

All photos provided for by Zemekiss Photography, who you can learn more about by clicking here. You should do so; Zemekiss Exanto is awesome people and will capture your event with class and skill.  

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157

You’ll Take a Shining to Stephen King Burlesque at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre

Burlesque, Events

March 20, 2017

Geekenders, Vancouver’s ‘cult sensation’ (Vancity Buzz) burlesque

troupe celebrating fandom, pop culture and alternative beauty, has announced a new

burlesque spectacular celebrating the work of Stephen King.

In the past four years Geekenders shows have drawn over 40,000 audience members

to shows ranging from a musical comedy take on the Portal video games to a cabaret-
style show exploring the world of Doctor Who, as well as consistently appearing in ‘Best

Burlesque Troupe’ lists all over the city, and shut down pop culture conventions with

packed houses, and changed the face of Vancouver’s theatrical community, making

theatre and burlesque accessible to an entirely new demographic of people.

In that tradition, Geekenders’ brand new burlesque variety show, ‘We All Float Down

Here: A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ at the Rio Theatre on March 25th. ‘We All

Float Down Here’ is a burlesque, dance, and comedy show celebrating the oeuvre of

Stephen King through a vaudeville lens, creating a world where the horror writer’s films

collide in a Ziegfeld Follies-style explosion of glitter and showgirls.

Featuring FIFTEEN of Vancouver’s biggest nerdlesque names!

RIANNACONDA!
REBEL VALENTINE!
JAYNE FONDUE!
FANNY OAKLEY!
VERONICA VAMP!
TRIXIE HOBBITSES!
TYLR BOURBON!
SEAMUS FIT-IT-IN!
KITTY GLITTER!
ANDROSIA WILDE!
REAR ADMIRAL ZIGGY STARBUTTS!
GINGER FEMMECAT!
DRACO MUFF-BOI!
MISS DEE TWENTY!
ANITA JOHNSON!

“We pick the things we do to coax people out to see live theatre or burlesque, people

who might not have been previously interested,” says Geekenders artistic director

Fairlith Harvey. “There’s so much to see, from body-positivity and exclusively feminist

content, to gender blind casting, LGBT-friendly shows, goofy humour, and intricate

dance routines.”

Geekenders’ production of the Vegas-style nerdlesque revue ‘We All Float Down Here:

A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ runs Saturday, March 25th. Tickets are available in

advance at riotheatretickets.ca. For more information about Geekenders, visit

geekenders.ca or facebook.com/Geekenders

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1377

Vancouver Theater: Jurassic Parody

Culture, Reviews

November 18, 2015

It’s been more than two decades since Jurassic Park graced cinemas. Sure, the book had come out before that, but it’s the movie we remember – the magic of the cast combined with the direction and the effects have stood the test of time, creating a classic. We all remember the first time we saw Ian Malcolm, the first time we heard that triumphant music, the moment where we understood how dangerous velociraptors were.

ian-malcolm-jeff-goldblum-jurassic-park

I am the man your man could talk like.

Jurassic Park changed us. Impacted us like a meteor crashing down from on high. It was that powerful. It spawned a couple of direct sequels and, more recently, another sequel that may spawn a trilogy in and of itself. And, even more recently than that, the Geekenders theater company has created Jurassic Parody.

Geekenders is Vancouver’s nerdlesque theater troupe, doing everything from small variety shows to larger burlesque efforts to special events, but this is only their second effort at putting on what the more prudish might consider a legitimate musical theatrical production. The first was Portal, and Portal was cute. Jurassic Parody is a much stronger performance overall, and lives up to the promise of parody.

See, Portal stayed very close to the story of the second game. It added musical numbers, sure, but it still kept to the plot points and didn’t deviate much.

At first, Jurassic Parody looks like it might do the same, but there are signs that it is going to veer in different directions early on. For the most part, the first act sets up much of the same points and plots as the movie it is based on, but then the second act happens and everything goes out the window in the best possible way.

He story shifts, changes, mocking itself, the tropes and memes it birthed, the sequels that followed, and even other Geekenders productions. The final result is something spectacular, a breath of fresh air that is every bit as amusing as the original book was challenging, rife with strong performances, clever ideas, and interesting twists that take familiar characters to their logical extremes.

The main human cast does a lot of heavy lifting and is tied together by John Hammond as played by Rob Gillespie, who brings a manic optimism to the part. John is barely tolerant of the people around him questioning his brilliance even after everything goes completely wrong, and seems amused by the horrors around him right up until they get in the way of him opening his park. His final song, I Dreamed a Park, is lovingly sung over the corpse of a velociraptor while the ghosts of his victims hover around him.

Promo Photo 2

Look at them. So young. so hopeful. So not eaten by dinosaurs.

It’s a beautiful moment that is overseen by a smirking Ian Malcolm, as played by Graeme Thompson. Graeme has been a part of the Geekenders crew for years and is one of the most talented actors in the Vancouver scene, and he echoes Jeff Goldblum’s famous portrayal with smarmy charm. He’s perfect, piping in with small barbs, hitting on Ellie whenever possible, and generally being the confident sexy manbeast that every fan of the movies knows that he was.

Because, let’s face it – the most dangerous animal in that park was the unbridled sexiness that was that rockstar of a mathematician.

Speaking of Ellie Sattler, her part sees wild expansion in this, and Annette Reilly, the actress that plays her, adds a sense of oblivious glee to the role. Movie-Ellie got in a few decent lines but had little impact on the plot – her role was to force growth and change on others, but she doesn’t change herself in the movie. She also doesn’t change in Jurassic Parody, but she is aware of that lack of change and happy about it. She also gets and action sequence that helps move the story forward, a harrowing chase with velociraptors in the absence of her love, Dr. Alan Grant.

Longstanding Geekenders performer Stephan Blakeley takes on Alan Grant with his usual air of quiet confident disdain. He’s a soft presence, a solid focal point of charisma upon which every other character takes root. We get some callouts to his previous roles in older Geekenders productions, but its his resigned acceptance that makes Dr. Grant such an intriguing character here and becomes the tie by which every other character is defined.

Stephen Blakeley is an actor you learn to appreciate the more you see of him; like a fine wine, you appreciate the subtlety of his craft from one production to the next, learning to spot the small moments he brings to each performance. The man is a foundation stone upon which most Geekenders shows build themselves, and Jurassic Parody is no exception.

The other human actors turn in solid performances all around, ranging from the bratty perfection of John’s grandchildren played by Caitlain Carhoun and Ryan Carson, to the doctors played by Jesse Alvarez and Ali Watson. The character of Muldoon is parodied in a brilliant turn by Sean Fabisch, who pulls of the same trick with Dennis Nedry.

Of all the human characters, though, the one who gets the most change from the source material is Donald Gennaro. The lawyer is openly disdained by the rest of the cast, but becomes the most sympathetic of the humans due to a clever script and the timing of actor Kyle Harland. It’s a character full of surprising moments, and so when his death comes – as it must – we feel his loss.

He is, of course, eaten to death by the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The costume design in this is kind of badass.

The costume design in this is kind of badass.

As good as the humans are, however, anything based off Jurassic Park is going to live or die on the quality of the dinosaurs. Jurassic Parody is no exception.

The costumes are eye-catching, glitzy, and cool. The Triceratops is adorable. The velociraptors have mastered showtunes and are able to harmonize their murderous rampages. The vegesaurus clearly dislikes children as much as the rest of us. And the Tyrannosaurus Rex…

We all wanted more of the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the original movie, didn’t we? She got two scenes, really, that bit with the goat and then when she saved the day at the end. Her appearance here is masterfully built, and actress Alison Jenkins owns it when she finally does show up. Everyone else is cute when they sing, but the Tyrannosaurus Rex is operatic. She dominates.

So when she comes out in the middle of the second act and laments her lack of a role in this play, we know something is up. When she comes to save the day at the end, she’s not doing it out of altruism – she’s here to murder everyone, and there’s no one and nothing that can stop her. She is a force of nature, and Alison Jenkins plays her like one.

Jurassic Parody is playing from Tuesday, November 17 through to Saturday, November 21 a the York Theater on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. You can find more details by clicking here, and you should. This was an awesome show. Recommend it we do.

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1656

From Newb to Nerdlesque

Lifestyle

July 4, 2014

Burlesque was originally about making fun of politics. Now it’s about making fun. The new burlesque movement we’re seeing in Vancouver makes some really biting social commentary, as befits its origins. It’s also all-inclusive, welcoming and celebrating people of all shapes, sizes, genders, orientations, origins, everything. It’s about putting yourself, your personality, your creativity on stage. You can do whatever you want. You can do everything. (more…)

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1230

Wicked Ways: Delightfully Devious

Reviews

July 3, 2014

If you had the chance to see your favourite Disney Villains come to lascivious life onstage, would you? The answer is clearly yes, if the massive crowd at the Rio on a Wednesday was any indication. The theatre was Friday-levels of packed, and from all the cheering, they were not disappointed. (more…)

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2397

The Empire Strips Back [Review]

Uncategorized

May 2, 2014

Like the original movie, Geekenders’ A Nude Hope took us by storm with its originality and charm. And like The Empire Strikes Back (widely regarded as the best instalment in the trilogy), Empire Strips Back is a worthy successor, taking everything from the previous show and turning it up to eleven. (more…)

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The Empire Strips Back [Cast Video Interviews]

Interviews, Videos

April 28, 2014

I was invited to attend the press preview of Geekenders upcoming Star Wars burlesque parody show, The Empire Strips Back. Following up the massive success of their original Star Wars: A Nude Hope as well as the vastly entertaining Wizards of Bras, the nerdlesque troupe is defintiely raising the bar with Empire. I had a chance to chat with some of the cast on camera, so here’s what they had to say: (more…)

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Geeksville, Population – You.

Interviews

April 23, 2014

Beautiful, Intelligent people taking off their…

Socially constructed stereotypes, what else?  Vancouver has made a safe, inclusive place for everybody to explore themselves and their passions. Welcome to Geeksville. (more…)

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1510

1800

Star Wars – A Nude Hope

Uncategorized

December 4, 2013

1461744_604389469615444_575518952_nBrought about by popular demand, the Rio Theatre will host a very special encore presentation of Geekender’s Star Wars: A Nude Hope. Why? Because both of the original shows sold out, leaving The Rio to turn away between two and three hundred people. The Geekenders know what they are doing. And this? This was a masterpiece.

With over 25 of the best performers that the Vancouver burlesque and improv scenes have to offer, this was an amazingly awesome show created by Fairlith Harvey and the Geekenders! As if we Star Wars fans aren’t sexually frustrated enough, all nerdlesquers can now unite as the Empire strips back in this original theatrical production.

Featuring lightsaber walk-offs, sexy droids, beautiful human x-wings and tie fighters, explosions of confetti, genius selection of music and brilliant acting this was both mind-blowing and epic. The only thing lacking was a golden bikini clad Leia twerking her ass off, but maybe, of we’re all extra good this Christmas, Fairlith and the Geekenders will round out the trilogy…? One has to have hope. A nude hope. I am waiting impatiently for the return of fabulous dancing and singing, more (and better than our) puns, and tons of nostalgia and fandom with a cast that includes sexy appearances from Chewbacca, Darth, Hans, R2D2, Luke, and many more, all crafting an impressive two-act adaptation of this classic cinematic masterpiece.

1410684_604387742948950_18609257_oJust remember, if you’ve been looking for love in Alderaan places – I am telling you now that R4 is red, and R2 is blue, so if you want to feel the force, I’d be there if I were you. And Fairlith, you are the Obi-wan for me!

Tickets are $20 in advance at www.riotheatretickets.ca or $25 at the door.
(Assuming there are any seats left, that is. There won’t be. Remember, they sold out two nights in a row already, so mark your calenders.)
Saturday December 14th & 15th. You must be there. The Force demands it.
Doors at 7pm, show starts promptly at 8pm

UPDATE:
Check out our video interview with Geekenders’ Fairlith Harvey!

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